The narcissistic commissioner who manages the NFL is creating an impossible situation for himself. His reign as commissioner has been marked by a series of self-serving pronouncements that create unnecessary predicaments for him. He declared himself the “law and order commissioner” and his version of law and order has been repeatedly overturned by either the courts or an independent arbitrator. One of the people who overturned one of his judgments was the prior commissioner of the NFL who ruled against the current commissioner in the New Orleans Saints bountygate matter. The matter has been unresolved since the first of the year and the NFL veterans all report to training camp this week. Tom Brady and his legal team met with the commissioner June 23rd and still the matter remains unresolved although leaks to the media from the offices of the NFL indicate negotiations are taking place. The behavior of the commissioner can only be described as narcissistic.
Narcissism as I have learned in writing my new book “Theory Them” is a more prevalent issue in business than most people imagine. It is estimated that as much as 6% of the US population is narcissistic. Narcissists are masters of manipulation and often have a great deal of charisma. Narcissists are preoccupied with success and power. Narcissists are often stylish dressers and present an excellent image to the world at large. All of the above contribute to their ability to achieve important positions in their chosen field. All of the above contribute to getting to significant positions but do not contribute to performing well at these elevated positions.
On the negative side narcissists present a real problem to their company or organization. They lack empathy and often seek targets whom they can abuse. All relationships are one-way relationships – built to serve the needs of the narcissist. Narcissists do not tolerate criticism and are incapable of admitting they are wrong. They don’t learn from their mistakes because they don’t make mistakes. People who disagree with narcissists are afraid of retaliation. Narcissists will often express rage and anger over mere infractions. They lose sight of what is real.
In my opinion this describes Roger Goodell in the ongoing saga with Tom Brady and deflated footballs. Goodell is taking an inordinate amount of time to render a decision because the decision is all about him and his image. It has little to do with Tom Brady and his supposed transgression. In reality the major transgression by Brady was refusing to turn over his cell phone to the NFL. Brady challenged Goodell and Goodell responded with an indefensible suspension of 4 games. The 4 game suspension makes no sense when compared to other NFL suspensions such as those meted out for spousal abuse and child abuse and NFL player abuse [bountygate].
Goodell has no empathy for the players. This was clearly demonstrated in the Ray Rice matter. Goodell changed his suspension of Rice from 2 games to a full season in order to protect his [Goodell’s] image. Ray Rice may have lost his career to preserve Goodell’s image. Tom Brady is now his latest target but Brady is a much more formidable foe than Ray Rice. Goodell has failed to learn from any of the decisions he has had overturned. His selection of Brady as a target may be the end of his reign at the NFL. He is now in a situation he cannot win, and no matter what he decides or what results from the negotiations he will be raked over the coals by the media and also may find himself in court defending his decisions. His narcissism put him in this spot. His inability to separate reality from self-delusion may finally bring about his downfall. Most narcissists leave a trail of destruction behind them and that is exactly what Goodell is doing at the NFL.